2 Poems by Samn Stockwell

He Examines Ghosts

The dictator smiling self-consciously behind the camera
as though every photograph would be of him –

she’s beautiful but holding her head so deliberately
immobile centuries could pass –
a face without breath.

His citizens awake to castles, moonscapes,
a tableau amid the clouds.

When he is older, breath pounding out in a cackle,
viewing the pond from the bedroom window –

it’s not too late to re-imagine the empire,
the fat-knuckled grasp on the landscape.

On the brink
of this, new armor
appears – the sun
on the black, wrinkled
trunks of the pines.


Each morning the mason returns
and battles the coil of brick:
growth is division,
boulevards and tower splintering.

He stands back,
grit embedded in his skin,
shading his eyes.

At day’s end he walks
in its shadow from the city
to his camp on the edge of the desert.
Dry, his lips blistered from the sun,
the evening cold slips under his shirt.

Samn Stockwell has been widely published, and her two books, Theater of Animals and Recital, won the National Poetry Series and the Editor’s Prize at Elixir, respectively. Recent work has appeared in Poet Lore, Salamander and Spillway, and work is forthcoming in Gargoyle, Plume, and others.

Ryan De LeonComment